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WAI and i18n (Internationalisation)

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charlesn@sunrise.srl.rmit.edu.au>
Date: Wed, 2 Sep 1998 19:23:54 +1000 (EST)
To: WAI <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>, WAI PF group <w3c-wai-pf@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.SUN.3.91.980902190827.17863D-100000@sunrise.srl.rmit.edu.au>
Having access to material in an appropriate language is an Accessibility 
issue, but I am not sure if wai-ig is the right place to discuss it, or 
if it belongs more properly in the i18n domain somewhere (can someone 
more official help us out?)

Anyway, I am bringing the issue back to the list (after a few hours).

My concerns come from two areas.

One is the use of CD-ROM, disc, Zip, etc to provide websites. This is a 
common technique, as it means a large amount of material can be easily 
used offline as well as having access to further material online. Sunrise 
Research Laboratory has produced more than 20 000 such CDs which are used 
in schools throughout Australia. Being able to carry multilingual 
information and have it properly dealt with would be a Good Thing (TM) 
for such collections.

The second concern, although much more widespread, is based on my 
assumption that the vast majority of web authors do not have control over 
their webservers, and cannot 'force' language negotiation to be carried 
out. I don't know if this applies to GeoCities and their ilk, but it 
certainly applies to many public and private service organisations in 
Australia. Part of the problem is a lack of skills on the part of 
sysadmins, but the need for someone to manage the server is greater than 
the ready availability of affordable and skilled sysadmins, a situation 
which doesn't sppear likely to improve in the near future.

One suggestion has been the use of <LINK REL="alternate" LANG="xx" 
HREF="this.de.htm"> (or something like it). This would solve the problem 
nicely, but needs to be implemented by browsers. The use of HTTP-EQUIV 
seems a difficult way to solve this problem, since I don't know that 
there is an http-header that can redirect selectively based on language. 
So we will always have a legacy problem, but it is one that ought to be 
solved for the future.

At the moment there is a mish-mash of solutions, with some languages 
relying on font remapping (Vietnamese) and others using full character 
sets (Chinese, Japanese and Korean, often written CJK).

Any thoughts?

Charles McCathieNevile

(In the meantime, I use HTTP-EQUIV to specify charsets sometimes, and 
other times I specify a font like .VnTime, and let it default to ISO-8859-1)
Received on Wednesday, 2 September 1998 05:47:25 UTC

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